The Pickens County tax office has been recognized as the leading small county to embrace new web technology by allowing taxpayers and car tag holders to handle business online, at their website pickenscountygatax.com.
Tax Commissioner Darrin Satterfield and Chief Deputy Tax Commissioner Darlene Handy showcased some of the features and discussed future plans during an interview Friday.
Satterfield said Pickens was the third county in the state to roll out some of the online services and the first small county to embrace technology to this extent. He said Pickens was recently mentioned as an example of technology during a state class.
Among the services now available online are paying property or mobile home taxes, car tag renewals and vehicle tag cancellation (useful for customers to remove tags from the system in order to cancel insurance without penalty). The office has almost all their information online, including tax sale lists, uncollected funds from tax sales and property information.
“We are using the technology to better accommodate the public,” Satterfield said. “This keeps lines down in the office and improves accuracy of all the work.” Satterfield said they have also moved to a scannable code on bills and other documents that will automatically pull up the correct record on a clerk’s computer, ensuring accuracy.
The online technology allows members of the public to handle more business without coming to the office, including car tag renewals and paying taxes on weekends. Being able to renew tags on a weekend is a great feature as it could prevent a ticket from motorists who let deadlines pass.
Through the new technology, the local tax office is also operating a leaner staff with four people on duty instead of the previous six.
Handy said today’s society expects technology to make everything more convenient and they are striving to meet those expectations. She said the whole staff has really embraced the new technology.
While some of the property tax features were already available at the website, Satterfield said they have made major strides making them easier to use, saying “they are so much friendlier.”
The tax commissioner’s office had already installed a drop box for people to leave payments, part of a goal of accommodating working people. Satterfield said, “we don’t want people to have to use their lunch break here.”
The one challenge not accomplished is an off-site kiosk where people can handle tag and tax business. At one point Satterfield said he intended to put kiosks in both the east and west ends of the county, where people could print items like car tag decals and mobile home decals, but he has run into a snag. Apparently the state’s vendor has a deal that will allow kiosks only at Kroger stores. The local office is still looking at options for this.
Handy and Satterfield said the increased government offerings are part of what they see as a trend towards “one-stop-shops” for all government business online. They believe that eventually you’ll be able to handle everything such as renewing vehicle tags and drivers’ licenses at the same spot.
Satterfield said the initial reviews from the public of this technology has been very favorable and the more people who use the online options, the shorter the lines in the office.
“Anything we can do to keep the lines down, keeps people happy,” Handy said.